Find out what happened when a Deseret News reporter went a week without a car

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  • andreality Centerburg, 00
    Nov. 21, 2018 9:36 a.m.

    Seems like if you have children, are travelling as family, and/or want to get there comfortably and bring home bags of shopping items, don't take the bus or Traxx. If you are single, it works!
    I have a daughter and her roomie who use Traxx almost daily and they enjoy the availability and the convenience. I have found that when in SLC there are always lots of parking spaces and garages so it's unnecessary to use public transportation. The only downfall is having to walk quite a ways from the garage to the mall or temple downtown. (don't judge me harshly, I'm 72).

  • JenniferSnow Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 19, 2018 2:54 p.m.

    With love I say there are easier ways of going about a week on transit. I moved to Utah 3 years ago and was amazed at how good the transit system is here compared to the other states and cities I've lived in. Getting a Farepay card reduces how much you spend on fares, and if you call UTA with where you are starting from and where you want to end up, they will map out the best route for you, which will include buses and trains. Plus, I've had two different employers who paid for a transit pass for their employees.

    I prefer transit because out of the 4 states I've lived in, Utah and Salt Lake City has by far the rudest and most dangerous drivers.

  • csharp2 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 19, 2018 11:39 a.m.

    My daughter turned 16 last year and I decided to let her drive my truck to school; instead of buying a car I bought an electric bike. So far so good. Saturdays are a bit tricky as we need to coordinate the use of the car and I'm not as helpful to my wife with carpools but I'd say everyone likes the new arrangement and the lack of a car payment. My ride to work and back is often a highlight of my day and I like proving the naysayers wrong; many people think I'm crazy.... too cold, too hot etc.

    I live by the Zoo and work downtown: I wouldn't be commuting by bike if I didn't have an electric bike.... it's a game changer for me.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 19, 2018 7:47 a.m.

    I went carless for the better part of two years in Chicago. I was young and single at the time. Got around in town via CTA. Lots of people there had folding grocery carts for when they went shopping. Seemed to work.

    Here in the SLC suburbs, as a single parent with two small children, I bought a kid-carrier trailer and was able to greatly reduce my car use. Now, single again and with the kids grown, I BBT (bike,bus,train) a lot. I have a bike trailer that I can carry amazing amounts of stuff in.

    No, I am not completely carless. But just because I can't manage Totally Carless doesn't mean I can't do Partially Carless. It's not just possible - much of the time it's fun. Outside of smog season, at least.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Nov. 19, 2018 5:59 a.m.

    There were many interesting points made in this article, and the video presentation was well done. When I lived near the intersection of 3900 S. and 1300E., I tried riding the bus to go two miles to work. It was really hard, primarily because the bus stops required walking, and the bus schedule was not consistent. I also tried walking, and that worked better, but took longer and was difficult because of carrying school supplies. I was much relieved when I had a vehicle again, so sad to say. I think it is great for more people to give public transportation a chance to work, and when feasible live in places where it will work.

    It bothers me when grammar areas sneak into DN material. The two errors I noted were "I've rode" and "importantly," which is an adverb being used as an adjective.

  • Susan Quinton Draper, UT
    Nov. 18, 2018 7:47 p.m.

    Good video- I’m glad she realized how much of a problem Utah’s public transportation is, and how expensive. Now imagine taking 8 children, a dog, bikes, sometimes a church group of teenagers on Wednesday nights...and living 20 miles from the nearest bus station. Some days were 6 hours on the frontrunner, track, and bus! It was pretty much impossible for us without a car, and we were expecting the ease of Portland when we moved to Utah. After that week she will comprehend why only 2-3% of Utahns use public transportation.

  • utah cornhusker Norfolk, NE
    Nov. 18, 2018 6:10 p.m.

    I took UTA when I lived in Salt Lake. At that time, there was no trax or frontrunner. It was most inconvenient. I lived in the lower Avenues so I didn’t have to take it a lot as I could walk most places which I didn’t except I went to visit friends. I don’t think unless you want to wait and wait buses are not that convenient as you run on their time and sometimes one doesn’t live near the bus lines. I agree with the gentleman who took his family on the bus probably not a good idea, and yes there are ones that ride buses aren’t that greatest but it isn’t true of everyone.

  • Steve Glaser Holladay, UT
    Nov. 18, 2018 2:27 p.m.

    When it comes to reducing air pollution, going carless may be the ideal, but we'll be way ahead if people view cars as just one mode of transportation and look at the full range of options for each trip. For example, maybe the only way to get to work in a decent amount of time is to drive, but you can carpool with someone that lives and works nearby. How much time have you spent trying to find someone you can ride with?

    I find that with bus or bicycle, most trips take twice as long as a car. But I can take a lot of trips this way. I go to a grocery store a half-mile away on bicycle with a pair of saddle bags, and when necessary, a day-pack. I go more often than if I took my car, but it works out just fine.

    To get at the point of one commenter, no I'm not going to get a 36-pack of toilet paper from Costco, but I can keep my family in TP with smaller quantities. So I won't go to Costco just for toilet paper, but I will if I'm getting a lot of stuff there. Drive solo where it makes sense, find another way when that makes sense. I buy about 12 tanks of gas a year including vacations (and my wife gets another 8-10) - it makes it easy not to stress about the price of gas.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 18, 2018 10:14 a.m.

    @dski
    "And AAA guesstimated it cost $9500 to maintain a car annually? True, if everyone drives a Lamborghini? To live in Salt Lake, some can do it but it will be hard for a family."

    Well, I suppose if they think the average person gets a 21,000 dollar car every 7 years (4,000 because that car loan has interest), plus car insurance (maybe 1000), repairs/tires/oil changes/maintenance (500), and gas for 10,000 miles a year (varies a lot from person to person and situation but this is around average) at 20mpg (so 500 gallons or like 1500 dollars)... well that gets to 7,000.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 18, 2018 10:03 a.m.

    You need some rather specific sets of living/working/school locations that are easily connected by public transit or not far apart that taking a bike is practical and in that situation it's generally pretty easy to make it work. The entire time I've lived here I haven't had a car because of that.

    Otherwise... not so much.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Nov. 18, 2018 9:53 a.m.

    The population of Salt lake city is small compared to the overall population of Salt Lake county and the connecting counties of Utah, Davis and Weber.

    So if you live in the City and live close to your work and shopping you might be able to get by without a car. But even if you can, millions more cannot. so it won't make any difference in air pollution... Think of the feel good idea of not idealing your car in the winter.

    The best thing we can do about improving the air quality is one, move out of the valley or two, find a way to limit high pressure systems.

    Yesterday I notice poor air quality in... Fillmore!

  • mountainlocal Brooklyn, NY
    Nov. 15, 2018 7:47 p.m.

    I moved back to Salt Lake and bought a house. One emphasis in shopping was that the house was reasonable walking distance to a Trax line. Right now I take Trax to work everyday and it's faster than using my car.

    I fill my gas tank about once a month and put less than 500 miles a month on my car, thereby retaining some of it's value. If you live in SLC you can get a monthly Hive Pass for under $50.

    I think it all comes down to a mentality and choices. Live close to where you work. Choose to live near a transit line or bus. And then use the car to fill in the gaps where public transit ins't reasonable.

    The extra walking each day is great exercise and has helped me lose ten pounds in a couple of months.

  • dski HERRIMAN, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 6:20 p.m.

    Living in Salt Lake without a car can be done but it depends on one’s lifestyle. There are plenty of places for food and entertainment. A place to exercise? And AAA guesstimated it cost $9500 to maintain a car annually? True, if everyone drives a Lamborghini? To live in Salt Lake, some can do it but it will be hard for a family.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:57 p.m.

    I would love to go without a car and use more mass transit or my bike. If anybody has any great suggestions for using either of those options to commute from Farmington to Cottonwood Heights (particularly in the winter) without eliminating any time with my family I'm all ears! Until there is a reasonable alternative I'll keep driving my car - even on red days - because I need to go to work and I need to go home.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:44 p.m.

    anything is "possible"> a better question is if it feasible, or realistic. I am a senior citizen with numerous health issues. Am i supposed to ride a bike in the snow to my Dr. appointments?? What about the winter pollution? That would exacerbate my COPD. Maybe more thinking is needed?

  • relinda GAINESVILLE, GA
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:41 p.m.

    I grew up in Berlin, West Germany, yes, they have a public transportation system! But as teenagers we used the Bikes. This past Summer, I visited with family, and found out- to my utter surprise- that you can walk around Berlin, which I did going sight seeing! Even in Salt Lake City, which I visited in 2016, it is possible to walk everywhere. During the day at least! It was so much fun, to be able to walk and see things that you can not see when you drive! Caution- do not walk or ride the bike at night, when it starts to get dark!

  • zgomer Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:30 p.m.

    Anything can be said to help clean the air, it doesn't matter, SLC will always have this problem period.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:29 p.m.

    I've gone a month and more without driving. It took a lot of BBT (bike, bus, train) travel, and I have a cargo trailer for the bike to carry groceries and such.

    Commuting took a lot longer, but I chalked that up to exercise.

    But I did it in the summer. Whole different ball game in smog season.

  • JasonH84 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:09 p.m.

    It is not more expensive to go without a car as stated in the video. You’re not taking into account the cost of the car, insurance, gas, and repairs/maintenance. AAA estimates the yearly cost of owning a car is around $9500. Much less convenient, yes, but more healthy for you and the rest of us, and a lot more cost effective to live without a car. Great series, thanks for opening our eyes to these issues.

  • Mom and Love It San Juan, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 5:05 p.m.

    Two years ago we took public transit from Utah County to SLC to eat and to see the lights at Temple Square. We were traveling with small children. Besides it taking way longer and being far more expensive than a car. It was very inconvenient, uncomfortable, and there is a negative stigma associated with public transportation.
    First, we missed the Front runner (They stop for only a few seconds at each stop. If you don't move fast, you're not getting on) We had to wait an hour for another one.
    Once we arrived in SLC, buses were lined up nearby. We found the bus we thought was right and asked if they drove the route that went past the restaurant. The driver asked if we were looking for the homeless shelter. (We did have our hats and coats for the lights, but still, does a family not take public transit unless homeless?)
    We had to leave lights early to catch transportation home. On the way back from the lights, we took Trax. While riding, a shady looking character asked us for money and there was a group of young men drinking alcohol a few seats up from us.
    Public Transportation in SLC is expensive, inconvenient, and not set up for families. Next time we visit, it will be in a car.

  • calu Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 4:36 p.m.

    I agree with geriatric mommy. It is hard enough with children. School, babysitters, and what happens if the babysitter is sick and you have to take the kid elsewhere where you don’t know the bus route or schedule. Of course there is always Lyft, but that can get expensive. Public transportation is great for some, but close to impossible for those of us with a full schedule especially a single parent trying to be a good living parent and make ends meeet all in a day

  • KanataHal CA, 00
    Nov. 15, 2018 4:27 p.m.

    As for Salt Lake being too small for mass transit, I disagree. My home town of Ottawa, Canada is comparable in population and area to the greater Salt Lake. Ottawa is similarly spread out, which reduces efficiency, yet the mass transit here saves people a lot of money and makes life without a vehicle possible, (though still difficult). Some riders save three times the cost of a monthly transit pass on parking fees alone. Also, they salt the roads here, so driving in the wintertime seriously shortens a vehicle's life. So how can you predict whether it's economical before you build it?

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 3:04 p.m.

    @CCJones: :Public transit should be free..."

    1. Meaning the majority of taxpayers who are not served by usable routes and schedules should bear the burden of funding UTA for those who are able to utilize it if they choose? We are told that UTA takes cars off the road, but I've been on the buses and trains enough to know that they run below capacity so much of the time that the traffic reduction is not sufficient to justify the burden to the rest of us.

    2. Even if UTA was free to board, the cost in terms of wasted time is just too great.

  • Opinionated Sandy, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 2:29 p.m.

    RE: CCJones:
    I sure get tired of people expecting things for free. It's a plague.

  • Opinionated Sandy, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 2:05 p.m.

    I'm pretty sure that electric scooter you used is not allowed on sidewalks. I know the green bikes are not.

  • CCJones Lehi, Ut
    Nov. 15, 2018 1:23 p.m.

    UTA spends more in collecting and accounting bus and trax fees then it collects in the fees. Why are they charging people to ride the bus? Public transit should be free, it would cost the tax payer less money and fill up these 75% empty buses and trains.

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 1:19 p.m.

    If most people in Utah could make their week without a car during Spring and Fall break (or permanently as is likely being advocated), then our national parks would be a lot less busy and it would be a lot easier for my family to find campsites and parking spaces at trail heads. It solves congestion at National Parks as well as global warming simultaneously! I do look forward to people pulling little trailers behind their bikes with their camping gear and coolers. I wonder what kind of basket could be installed on bikes to get several bags of water softener salt home on a bike along with Costco toilet paper and paper towels. If someone invents something, there's probably a lot of money to be made.

    I am fully supportive of all of you who want to give up your car. I'm interested in follow-up articles as to how it's going for you in 10, 20, and 40 years from now.

  • Capsaicin Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 1:16 p.m.

    When the air is this bad, a car is definitely better.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 12:42 p.m.

    If you work at home and the stores you need are close bye and you never have a need, or a desire to leave your neighborhood, yes you can go without a car.

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 12:27 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think we all can do better. Even if we all do a little better, its helpful. I recently started biking to and from work about twice a week for exercise purposes. It's about a 7 mile trip each direction. Fortunately, bike paths, Parley's Trail and back streets make it pretty safe. We could use more bike paths throughout the valley so that bike commuting is safer.

    Regarding the cost of transportation: gas money vs. mass transit money does not factor in the major costs of automobile transportation. These include the cost of the vehicle, insurance and repairs. There's no question that mass transportation is less expensive or that it is more time consuming.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 11:32 a.m.

    @Um Actually - "Most car trips are under 3 miles...."

    Were you quoting something in the video? (I can't turn on sound where I am at.)

    I somehow doubt that statistic. While I certainly can't speak for everyone, I know 99% of my car trips are far more than 3 miles. Rarely would I ever use a car for less than that. Once in a long while I may run to the store that is half a mile away and use my car (making the trip 1 mile). But, generally when I am driving it will be fore 10 to 30 miles at a time. Some days (just shopping trips in the valley) I can put on 100 miles combining all my shopping trips into one (meaning store hopping). Even from one store to another is more than 3 miles the vast majority of the time (except the jump between Hobby Lobby and DI in Sandy).

    I have never been able to afford a house close to where I work, currently I am living the closest I ever have, and that is still 10 miles. And, based on how I see other cars drive all over, I very much doubt that even 50% of car trips are under 3 miles anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley. I would estimate it more likely that 25-30% overall might be that under 3 mile marker.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 11:18 a.m.

    You couldn't pay me enough money to ride a bike anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley. Most roads don't have bike lanes. The few roads that do don't go anywhere worth going. And on top of that; rules against riding on side-walks (where it is 1000 times safer for everyone).

    How many bike vs. pedestrian deaths are there each year? ZERO. How many bike vs. car deaths each year? (SIX in 2017). [Actually surprised it was so low, I expected a few dozen.] It is much safer to bike on side-walks; and that should be where bikes go when there is no bike lane, and even sometimes when there is a bike lane (like where it merges for right turning traffic).

    And that doesn't include the fact that in Utah; most roads don't even have side-walks.

    There is no safe place to ride a bike, and certainly not safe on any roads to and from my work. It is not worth my life, to ride a bike; but that could be the cost. And, that doesn't even account for the extra time, inclement weather, and all the other problems.

    And public transportation is just as bad time-wise; though not as dangerous to life and limb.

  • FatherOfFour WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 10:52 a.m.

    Is it possible in SLC? Definitely. Sugarhouse as well. But what about West Jordan, Kearns, or Herriman?

  • Um Actually... Provo, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 10:44 a.m.

    "Most car trips are under 3 miles...."

    I commute to bike by work and I love it (when the weather is decent), but that is when I'm by myself and it is easy. It is not so easy for my wife, in a mini van transporting 5 kids and returning with a bunch of bags of groceries, just try doing that by bike! Or transporting several kids to their soccer practices, public transportation or bikes are just not practical for many. I feel like these urban planners and environmental crusaders are basically asking everyone to live like them: no kids and in a tiny urban apartment. We don't want to live like that.

    We could crack down on the polluting vehicles out there. Even modern gas vehicles have pretty low emissions, 50-100 times less than some of the old trucks you see on the road that put out a cloud of smoke. It is no secret that you just register your truck outside the more restrictive Salt Lake/Utah counties if you want to get around the emissions rules. We need a state-wide emissions standard that takes pollution seriously. I think electric or natural gas busses are another solution, which are much more cost effective and flexible than the insane costs of fixed rail systems.

  • Geriatric Mommy Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 10:25 a.m.

    It took Ms Evans until 8 1/2 mins to note the relevant fact: that it is not economic to solely rely upon mass transit. Moreover, as a young singleton with an unencumbered schedule perhaps she can rely on no school or activity pickups, minimal groceries, lack of unanticipated trips to a doctor, etc. We are privileged to live somewhere with low density and, realistically, the punitive cost of building out mass transit is not realistic. Cities with systems (Hong Kong, London, NYC, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo) have many millions of densely packed residents living in tight quarters with punitive parking prices as well. Even Chicago and Boston are not capable of being car-less metropolises. It's a fact of life that we should walk more or build more neighborhood shopping but, most frequently and particularly for parents, a car is a necessity.

  • J. Smith Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2018 10:04 a.m.

    Absolutely, if you live in the right neighborhood. I have a second home in the Avenues and I am literally a 5-10 minute walk to any service I may want. I spend half of my time in NYC and SLC and do not own a car at either location. I use mass-transit when needed. It is marvelous to be unencumbered by a car!